We are pleased to announce the publication by Oxford University Press of a second edition of Abina and the Important Men. Substantially richer and even more engaging, this new edition helps us to understand even more of Abina's words: "I had been sold and I had no will of my own and I could not look after my body and health... that I am a slave and would therefore come and complain."
Abina Mansah's appeal to an unsympathetic courtroom stands out as both exceptional and representative of the struggles of everyday people for dignity and a better life throughout human history. The important men in the courtroom may not have listened to her, but her words were recorded so that we can hear them today. In this book, readers will encounter her courageous actions and bold declarations, all contextualized for use in the classroom or for the education of the individual reader. The second edition, published in June 2015, adds new layers to this story:
additional testimony from witnesses, previously lost in the Ghanaian archives and now rediscovered.
an exploration of the question "was Abina a slave?" by three leading historians: Kwasi Konadu (CUNY), Antoinette Burton (University of Illinois), and Sandra Greene (Cornell)
a new section on gender that asks readers to consider Abina's story through the frames of marriage and patriarchy as well as slavery.
an updated graphic narrative that reflects our new understanding of Abina's experiences and story.
We are very excited about the second edition, and hope you'll take a look. In addition, please feel free to explore this website, which provides tools for instructors, students, and readers to investigate Abina's story in greater depth.
Thank you for visiting.
Trevor R. Getz
NEWS & ANNOUNCEMENTS:
Master teacher Dave Sherrin's new resources for using Abina in the classroom
Dave Sherrin, a master teacher in New York, has created a mock trial and role plays for use with Abina and the Important Men. Dave is the author of "The Classes They Remember: Using Role-Plays to Bring Social Studies and English to Life" and "Judging for Themselves: Using Mock Trials to Bring Social Studies," two excellent teaching resources. You can find the mock trial lesson plans at http://davidsherrin.wix.com/davidsherrin#!abina-mock-trial/cm3aa (or go to http://www.davidsherrin.net, click on the "Resources" tab, and then on the "Abina Mock Trial" option). You can also find the three role playing exercises he designed at http://davidsherrin.wix.com/davidsherrin#!abina-role-plays/np33p.â€‹ Try them out in your class and tell us what you think!
Trevor Getz, author of Abina and the Important Men, is profiled in this video from the College of Liberal and Creative Arts at San Francisco State University:
Abina wins the James Harvey Robinson Prize: Abina and the Important Men was awarded the James Harvey Robinson Prize from the American Historical Association, awarded on a biennial basis for the teaching aid which has made an outstanding contribution to the learning of history in any field for public and educational purposes. The prize specifies that the work "should have the potential to influence history education".
Second Edition Announced: Trevor Getz and Liz Clarke are pleased to announce that we have signed a contract with Oxford University Press to produce a second edition of Abina and the Important Men. This updated edition will include a rich new section on gender and a debate among leading scholars as whether or not Abina was actually a slave. We will also include a newly-discovered set of additional testimonies related to Abina's case. We anticipate publication of this second edition in Spring 2015.
Abina at Thurgood Marshall Academy: "African history came to life today at Thurgood Marshall Academy when Children's Africana Book Award winner, Trevor Getz, introduced students to his graphic novel, "Abina and the Important Men". Trevor, a professor of African history at San Francisco State University, spoke with high school history and law classses about his use of Ghanian primary sources which eventually led to the discovery of Abina's trial transcripts. His admiration for her courageous actions prompted a desire to share her story, especially with high school and college students. In addition to discussing the historical background for the trial, Trevor explained the steps that are required for putting together a graphic novel. The students were very eager to get their own signed copies of the book and appreciated the opportunity to speak an African historian."
Abina in Ghana: Sue Gonzalez is a Resource Specialist at ER Taylor Elementary School in San Francisco. This summer, she taught literacy to young women in Elmina, Ghana in connection with Tomorrow's Stars and with funding support from AllPeopleBeHappy.org. Sue used Abina and the Important Men to help give the young women with whom she worked the sense that their lives, and their voices, mattered. She was assisted by a young woman named Leticia, who had been given to an aunty to work when she was 8 years old. Leticia told the girls her own story of survival as they read Abina's, and the group discussed the importance of sharing their voices. Included is a picture of the class discussing Abina and the Important Men. Sue is hoping to receive further funding to return to Ghana next year.
New Article on Abina:
Trevor R. Getz and Lindsay Ehrisman have completed a new article based on Abina Mansah's testimony and additional oral and written sources. The article focuses on her perspectives and life as a married woman. This article will be published in the inaugural volume of the Journal of West African History, forthcoming in 2015. Drafts are available to researchers for professional use (but not redistribution) through the authors.
Abina and the Important Men: A Graphic History is on Facebook. Navigate to the book's Facebook page and click on "Like" to subscribe to our News Feed and/or "Share" (in the left-hand-side menu) to share Abina and the Important Men with your friends and family.